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More impacts and facts

On this page you find a list of more facts about the impact of mental illness.

  • There are 3 million working age adults with mental illness in the nation's communities, of whom 70-90% (about 2.5 million people) are unemployed.
  • In the USA the annual costs of mental disorders reached 147 billion US dollars (Institute of Medicine, 1989).
  • One in four families has at least one member suffering from mental illness.
  • About 12 million children under 18 suffer from mental disorders such as autism, depression and hyperactivity.
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 24.
  • Some 8 million to 14 million Americans suffer from depression each year. As many as one in five Americans will suffer at least one episode of major depression during their lifetimes.
  • Mental illnesses in parents represent a risk for children in the family. These children have a higher risk for developing mental illnesses than other children. When both parents are mentally ill, the chance is even greater that the child might become mentally ill.
  • Two million Americans suffer from schizophrenic disorders and 300,000 new cases occur each year.
  • About 450 million people suffer from mental and behavioral disorders worldwide according to estimates given in WHO's World Health Report 2001.
  • Over 800,000 people killed themselves in 2000.
  • Rates of suicide tend to increase with age and are highest among people aged 75 years or more.
  • Unemployment rates for people with all mental disorders are high.
  • The largest single group of people receiving incapacity benefit have a common mental disorder, which may be complicated by substance misuse.
  • People with severe mental illness have exceptionally high rates of unemployment between 60-100%.
  • People with long-term psychiatric disabilities are even less likely to be in employment than those with long-term physical disabilities.
  • The high rate of unemployment in those with mental illness is as much a product of social factors, as of the personal consequences of mental illness.
  • Barriers to work for people with mental illness include structural factors, the benefits system, stigma and prejudice, attitudes and approaches of the health services and the lack of well run employment schemes.
  • The overwhelming majority of mental health service users want to be employed, or at least be engaged in meaningful activity.
  • Disincentives to work include: the medical review process, permitted work rules, disruption of income, fear of drop in income, 52-week linking rule, difficulties in getting financial support for practical needs at work, lack of expert, independent benefits advice on return to work.